South London Healthcare NHS Trust to Dissolve

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

It has been decided that the debt-stricken South London Healthcare NHS trust should be dissolved after an official consultation. The trust which runs three hospitals in London was the first to be placed in administration after it started losing £1.3m a week.

Special administrator Matthew Kershaw said the trust should be dissolved and other organisations should take over the management and delivery of its services. Mr Kershaw recommended any debts should be written off by the Department of Health so that new organisations were not “saddled with the issues of the past“.

These recommendations would result in a radical overhaul of services in south London. The Queen Elizabeth hospital site in Woolwich would come together with Lewisham Healthcare NHS trust to create a new organisation providing care for the communities of Greenwich and Lewisham, while the Princess Royal University hospital in Farnborough, near Bromley, would be acquired by King’s College hospital NHS foundation trust.

Mr Kershaw said the south London trust remained the “biggest financial problem” across the NHS. The report stated “in order to deliver this transformation programme, South London Healthcare NHS trust should be dissolved and other organisations should take over the management and delivery of the NHS services it currently provides“. According to the report, the trust’s hospitals need to make £74.9m of efficiency savings over the next three years.

Dr Jane Fryer, medical director for NHS South East London and report adviser said, “as a practising GP in south-east London for 24 years, I believe the recommendations in this final report will ensure our patients receive safe, high-quality care which will simply not be possible if the situation here continues and no changes are made. Making changes to emergency, maternity and planned care over the next three years, alongside the important improvements we need in primary care and community services, will deliver a transformation in the NHS locally – a service saving lives and improving health outcomes. Clearly, not all clinicians agree with our proposals, but overall I believe by implementing them we can transform the way the NHS delivers services in south-east London, improving care for all in a long-term, sustainable way“.

The final report has been presented to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, who will review it and make a decision on the future of the trust in south-east London by 1 February.

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